When someone is facing drug possession charges, it usually means the suspect was in possession of drugs when they were caught. But if someone was caught while in possession of a large amount of drugs and drug paraphernalia, police may believe the suspect was engaged in drug trafficking or drug distribution. The police may charge the suspect with drug possession with intent to distribute. This is a much more serious charge and carries more severe penalties if convicted.
Simple drug possession differs from drug possession with intent to distribute based on the quantity of drugs in the suspect’s possession and other evidence indicating an intent to distribute. To prove drug possession with intent to distribute, law enforcement must prove the suspect intended to sell or distribute the drugs. This is often done through circumstantial evidence, such as having a quantity of drugs larger than what a reasonable person would have for personal use, or having paraphernalia commonly used for packaging, weighing, and distributing drugs. Examples of drug paraphernalia include scales used to weigh drugs, cash, pay/owe sheets, and even plastic baggies that can be used to package drugs for distribution. Police may even point to frequent and brief meetings with visitors to your home to try to prove drug possession with intent to distribute.
You can be arrested for intent to distribute even if you have not actually sold any drugs. If law enforcement can prove that you were in possession of illegal drugs and planned to sell or distribute them—even if you were going to distribute them for free or just simply use with friends—you can be charged with and convicted of drug possession with intent to distribute.
Drug possession with intent to distribute is prosecuted more aggressively than simple drug possession, and the penalties for conviction are much more severe. You will face enhanced penalties based on the amount of drugs in possession when you were arrested, and if you have prior criminal convictions.
So, what should you do if you’ve been arrested for selling drugs?
If you have been arrested and charged with a drug crime, and especially if you have been charged with drug possession with intent to distribute, don’t say anything and contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
If you have been arrested, remember that “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” To avoid giving law enforcement any more evidence that can be used to convict you: (1) tell the police you are asserting your constitutional right to remain silent; (2) ask to speak with a lawyer; and (3) stop talking.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is a critical step after being charged with drug possession with intent to distribute. A skilled and aggressive criminal defense lawyer can help by protecting your rights, ensuring that you do not say anything that can be used to help convict you, and defending you in a court of law.
Drug paraphernalia is any kind of equipment, product, material, or accessory that is used for manufacturing, using, concealing, or distributing drugs. Examples of drug paraphernalia include glass pipes, crack pipes, bongs, freebase kits, syringes, roach clips, scales, vials, mirrors, and storage bags, to name just a few.
While you can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia alone, it is more likely that the possession of drug paraphernalia will be used to prove a suspect’s intent to distribute drugs. This is especially true when the drug paraphernalia in your possession can be used to prepare and package drugs for sale or distribution.
If you have been charged with drug possession with intent to distribute, there are several defenses that may be available to you.
A criminal defense lawyer may be able to defend you on the basis that you were not actually in possession of illegal drugs. If you did not know that you were in possession of a controlled substance, or if your lawyer can create reasonable doubt as to whether you knew the drugs were there, a jury may return a Not Guilty verdict.
Even if you were knowingly in possession of drugs, your lawyer may be able to argue that you did not intend to sell or otherwise distribute the drugs. If your lawyer can have the distribution charges dismissed, you face substantially less severe penalties than if you are convicted for drug possession with intent to distribute. You may even be able to avoid prison time by participating in a drug rehabilitation program.
If your lawyer can successfully argue that evidence of the drugs or drug paraphernalia should be excluded from trial, you may be able to avoid conviction. If the evidence was illegally obtained or if the prosecution cannot prove chain of custody, your lawyer may be able to have the evidence excluded from consideration by the jury. This can lead to a favorable plea deal or even outright dismissal of the case.
If you are facing charges of drug possession with intent to distribute, it is critical that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
At Fremstad Law, our criminal defense attorneys are among the best in the business. We stand ready to defend you against charges of drug possession with intent to distribute.
Fargo criminal defense lawyer Nick Thornton has been defending people accused of crimes since 2006. He has represented thousands of people who have been accused of crimes, and is passionate about seeing that justice is served.
If you have been charged with drug possession with intent to distribute, contact the Fargo, North Dakota criminal defense lawyers at Fremstad Law today to learn how we can help move you forward.
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